1950s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Happy Halloween!

October 30, 2011
The huge pile of bias tape I made

I had decided a few months ago that I would like to be a 1950’s housewife for Halloween. My reasons were simple- I could use up some of my fabric stash, I’d have a minimum of cost, and I could make a new dress that I could wear any time I wanted, not just for Halloween. I wanted to do something simple and that I had made before so nothing unexpected would come up, as I know I am one of the worst procrastinators I know.I ended up choosing Butterick 4790, a 1952 Vintage Reproduction pattern. B4790 is basically an apron dress. Its got a narrow front skirt, which fastens behind you, and a full circle skirt that wrap around and fastens at the natural waist in front of you. The entire dress is basically three pieces- skirt, top back, and the front.

Of course due to the large and simple sizes of the pieces, and my large size, I end up cutting the pieces into a few more than that. The circle skirt I cut into 4 sections, the front was cut into two, and the top back was cut as a single piece as directed by the pattern.

Sewing this dress is really simple. From the start of cutting to finishing it, it generally takes about two hours. All the raw edges on this are hidden by bias tape. Stitching that on takes longer then anything else. But because I can never leave anything as it, and because I wanted my bias tape to have a little extra zing, I decided to make my own instead. I armed myself with this bias tape maker from Fabric.com, and my Black & Decker F67E Classic Iron. I had no idea that making my own bias tape would be as time consuming as it was! Between cutting the strips of fabric, stitching them together, and feeding them through the gadget and ironing the folds in, it took me about 2 hours to make enough tape to do the dress.

My finished dress, right before we left for the party

If I had realized ahead of time how much time it would take to do this, I may have just bought plain red, ready-made tape from Joann’s instead. But after seeing how it turned out, I’m really glad I didn’t.

The pattern was graded up about a size and a half from its largest printed size to somewhere between a 24 and a 26 I believe to it my generous proportions. Overall I was really happy with how it turned out, and would definitely make it again if I had the need or a third dress of this style. Of course my hair was completely uncooperative and I couldn’t get anything approximating the correct era to turn out, so finally settled for twisting, turning and pinning a few sections to give it the illusion of extra body and calling it good.

I did forget to do one thing on the dress, but amazingly its not that noticeable of a difference. I completely spaced and forgot to put in the bust darts, so there is some slight gaping at the arm holes, but its not as much as I was afraid there would be when I realized I’d forgotten.

I don’t have an expanded post or this on either of my main blogs, so I can’t redirect you there for more details.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed my finished dress as much as I have!

    1. I wanted to give up so many times! Then I realized I was out of money to go buy some if I did decide to change my mind until after Halloween so didn’t have much of a choice. Afterwards though, it was definitely worth making it! I love how it turned out.

  1. This is great – I have looked at this pattern a number of times but wasn’t sure how the fit would look on an actual person because of the wrap style, so I’m really glad to see this. I think definitely worth getting as it looks fab.

    1. Thanks Elaine! It’s greedy in terms of fabric, but its very simple to put together, comfortable, and you could easily mix it up quite a bit with different fabric choices.

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